Belfast has a problem with Rape Culture. Eating lunch, buying clothes or even just walking down the street, women in this city are met with a barrage of misogynistic material. Violence against women is made light of and women’s bodies are used as room dressing. We have a high rate of violence against women and the way women are presented in pop culture is part of the problem.
In February 2018 the David James Kerr clothes shop was called out on its misogyny for this poster showing the lower portion of a couple having sex. The owner responded to the suggestion that the image was demeaning to women and inappropriate in a clothes shop by posting ‘its only a toilet door FFS’ on social media. The pornographic image is degrading and it is outrageous that the shop’s Instagram feed shows a pic of a child posing in front of it. The toilet icon above the poster is also deeply concerning, It shows a male character looking over a stall divider at a female character. This is an image of a man assaulting a women and it is being casually displayed in a clothes shop. This shop is popular with children.
Some have tried to dismiss this as a bit of fun or just lad culture but this kind of behaviour has real world consequences. In 2016 there were 3,160 reported sexual assaults in NI including over 800 rapes. Crimes of this nature are notoriously underreported and so we know this is only the tip of the iceberg. NI clearly has a problem with men’s attitudes to women and sex. Educating young men about the basic concept of consent is an uphill battle when this kind of imagery has been in their faces and infecting their sub consciousness since they were children.
The décor of Made In Belfast, a trendy restaurant in the Cathedral Quarter is more subtle in its misogyny. They display vintage looking prints of women in their underwear across from a giant mirror with the words ‘treat me like a piece of meat’ printed on it. Northern Ireland definitely has a problem with rape culture if we consider this appropriate room dressing for a restaurant. Pairing these items together evokes the age old trope that women are somehow asking to be the victims of sexual violence. The pervasiveness of images and messages like this in our society creates the impression that misogyny is acceptable.
In 2017 Ribs and Bibs restaurant on Botanic advertised its bargain lunch with this catchy slogan, ‘ya can beat the wife but ya can’t beat a 5 pound lunch!’. The restaurant’s initial response was to try and gaslight people who found making fun of domestic violence objectionable by telling them to ‘get a life, it’s a bit of wit’ on social media. This did cause a substantial backlash and Ribs and Bibs eventually said it would discipline the employee responsible but that person still thought it was okay to try and use domestic violence as a marketing tool and their boss thought this was witty. Northern Ireland has a shockingly high rate of domestic violence (one call to the PSNI every 18 minutes in 2016) and maybe part of the problem is that as a wider society we don’t take violence against women seriously enough.
That is the common thread running through all these examples, that we as a society do not take violence against women seriously. Women are abused by partners, assaulted and treated like a piece of meat. Our bodies are disrespected and denigrated and our privacy and safety are compromised. Some of those actions are illegal, all are morally reprehensible but we are not going to make real progress in tackling them as individual issues unless we dismantle a culture which thinks it is okay to use them to sell us stuff.
The next time you’re out shopping or grabbing lunch and you see rape culture looking back at you, point it out to the proprietor and let us know on twitter and Facebook. No more women hating in public spaces.
Bold Women Blogging is a public submission blog. Posts do not necessarily represent the views of WRDA but rather operates as a platform for open discussion to encourage younger women’s participation in social and political issues. To find out more visit this page.
Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a pension scheme and contribute towards it. This is called ‘automatic enrolment’. If you employ at least one person you are an employer and you have certain legal duties.
The minimum contribution that an employer and employee pay into the pension scheme is increasing from April 2018. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is contacting employers about the increase in the minimum contributions, that employers and employee must pay into an automatic enrolment pension scheme.
When does the increase take effect?
The minimum contributions are due to increase over two phases. The first increase is from 6 April 2018, and the second from 6 April 2019. The first phase of the increases was originally due to start from October 2017. However, in April 2015 these dates were changed by the government to start from 6 April 2018.
Who does this apply to?
All employers must make sure they pay at least the minimum contributions into the pension scheme. If employers are already paying above the increased minimum amounts, there is no need to worry or make any changes.
What are the minimum contribution rates?
|Date effective||Employer Minimum Contribution||Staff Contribution||Total Minimum Contribution|
|Currently until 5 April 2018
|6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019
|6 April 2019 onwards
What are the next steps?
Ensure the pension supports the automatic increases in minimum pensions contributions. If a pension scheme does not increase its minimum contribution levels in line with the legal requirements, it will no longer be a qualifying scheme for existing members and cannot be used for automatic enrolment
Understand how these changes will affect the organisations, eg ensure that any new funding bids allow for the increase In the contribution.
Employees should know what is happening. There are no additional duties under automatic enrolment for employers to advise members about these increases, however they may wish to do so to help minimise queries, or reduce the number of workers subsequently leaving their schemes. Employers should still be mindful of the need to consult their members if changes are made to the minimum contribution levels before the 6 April changes to contribution rates.
Will the pension provider communication directly with the members? They should at least provide template letters.
Click here for further information about the changes.
If you are aged 18-35 and have something to say, we want to help you get heard! WRDA will be launching a brand new blog called Bold Women Blogging on Friday 2nd March 2018. Bold Women Blogging will be a space where the next leaders of NI Feminism can voice their views on any topic related to gender.
The final decision on what gets published rests with the Communications and Membership worker
If you are interested in submitting a piece to the blog or want to find out more please email Megan on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include a contact number, little bit about yourself and if you would like to post anonymously.
Following the disappointing High Court decisions on the cases brought by Chris and Henry Flannagan-Kane and Grainne Close & Shannon Sickles many of us will be asking what the next steps are for Marriage Equality in NI. Stephen Donnan from the Rainbow Project will be answering those questions and explaining a bit more about the Marriage Equality campaign at an event organised by WRDA. Read More
Maternal Mental Health Week #Road2WellbeingNI
Having a baby is a life changing event, and it’s natural for anyone to experience a range of emotions and reactions during and after pregnancy. But for some women this can start to have a big impact on their lives.
For many women in Northern Ireland, women’s centres are an essential source of support and advice. So leading local mental health and wellbeing charity Inspire is joining forces with the Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), to take information about maternal mental health and general wellbeing out into women’s centres across Northern Ireland.
On Tuesday 2nd May the two organisations were on a mission to deliver and setup ‘Inspiration Points’ stocked with leaflets on issues such as post-natal depression, anxiety and other mental health problems that can arise for mums throughout the women’s centre network.
Members Event: Civil Conversations on Marriage Equality
The Department of Finance is supporting a series of conversations about the issue of marriage equality and is keen to hear your views. WRDA is hosting an open conversation on the issue and it is an opportunity for all members to respond to questions.